EuroHealthNet: Further integration of health and further prevention and promotion for the re-orientation of health systems

EuroHealthNet's Health Equity Week ended yesterday after three days of debates and exchanges on the strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities for future action on health equity within and between European Countries, in times of social and economic crisis.

The week opened on Tuesday 29th May with a conference focusing on how to achieve effective collaboration across sectors to improve health and well-being in the EU. It concluded yesterday with a high level conference entitled "The Road to 2020 and Sustainable Health Systems". The event brought together EC representatives and Health Experts to explore ways of ensuring healthy societies and equitable access to health services against a challenging economic backdrop which calls for drastic systemic reforms

While EuroHealthNet acknowledges that the economic and financial crises have put huge pressure on public health expenditure, we believe that tackling health inequalities through the social determinants of health can alleviate this burden and improve the efficiency of health systems.

In the frame of the debate, representatives from the European Commission and the upcoming Cypriot Presidency agreed that an integrated approach between sectors such as health, social protection and education is essential to prevent unhealthy behaviours. For the Cypriot Presidency, it is crucial to promote policy actions which will make the EU more efficient and sustainable. Health promotion and disease prevention throughout the lifecycle is therefore seen essential to keep an ageing population healthy and active.

Agis Tsouros (WHO/EU) - highlighted that the values and principles required for healthy policies and strategies have already been identified and underlined that action is now needed to make sure healthy behaviors, healthy choices and sustainable lifestyles are effectively promoted.

EuroHealhNet has previously illustrated the strong link existing between health, poverty and social inclusion. Poor health and mental well-being may even be more prominent predictors of social exclusion than low income or paid employment. Furthermore, in a context where the workforce will be dominated by people above 50 years-old in the next decade, evidence suggests that poor health reduces labour force participation. Investing in a healthy older workforce is therefore essential to achieve the objectives of the EU2020 Strategy for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.

The working paper to be debated has been commissioned by EuroHealthNet as part of its policy dialogue process within its framework actions under the social inclusion strand of the PROGRESS programme. This is also a contribution to the implementation of the EU 2020 strategy and its Platform Against Poverty flagship priority.

For more information, contact Ariane Moret